This is the best thing. The best. Imagine if GLaDOS from Portal had amnesia and went to work for NASA with a pair of...well, idiots, and this is what you might get.
The prevalence of loud action movies shows just how much humans enjoy a good explosion. You won't find many bigger than what happened on the moon in September last year. Footage of an 880-pound asteroid smashing onto the lunar surface was just released, showing a bright flash at the impact site.
The evidence was captured by telescopes as part of a moon-impact monitoring project run by astronomers at the University of Huelva in Spain. A paper about the event was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.… Read more
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii -- I was recently having lunch at a lovely and only slightly overpriced cafe overlooking the Pacific in the historic resort region of Kailua-Kona on the dry side of Hawaii's "Big Island" (the island itself is also named Hawaii). I hopped in a rental car and traveled 60 miles by road, ascending nearly 3 miles in elevation from the dry, breezy coast through thick clouds shedding rain and hail onto my windshield, and finally reemerged into sunshine in the last few miles of the journey as I approached the Mauna Kea observatory complex, a collection of more than a dozen advanced telescopes that arguably serve as the eyes of mankind.
As technology has advanced over the centuries, we've been able to look exponentially farther into the depths of the universe with each new generation of super-sophisticated telescopes and supporting stargazing instruments. But somewhat ironically, getting top performance out of this equipment has meant locating it in increasingly isolated and even extreme spots around the globe, like Spain's Canary Islands, Chile's Atacama Desert, or here, on top of a 13,800-foot dormant volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that last erupted about 4,500 years ago. … Read more
There is little worse than spoiling a fantasy, especially one that is garlanded with chilly suspicion and a touch of wonder.
But science is now our great dictator, so I have to bring you the cheery news: science says that the dark side of the moon isn't dark.
I know, I know. You always hoped and imagined that it was populated by strange, ironic creatures who would do everything to keep away from the world's corrupt gaze, sheltering in the shade of their own company.
But now along come some scientists from all over the world who say: "Dark side, my bottom. It's turquoise." … Read more
The Milky Way is about to be seen in a whole new way.
The European Space Agency has successfully launched its Gaia satellite into orbit, bringing a 1 billion-pixel camera detector to map our galaxy in 3D.
The stargazer lifted off on Thursday aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from a launch pad at Sinnamary in French Guiana. Its mission is to map the precise location of over a billion stars. … Read more
Dreaming of an exotic vacation destination? How about relaxing on the shores of Kraken Mare, a hydrocarbon sea on Titan?
It's a tad chilly at minus 290 degree Fahrenheit, but that's a small discomfort compared with the wow factor of being at the only spot in our solar system -- outside Earth -- with stable surface liquid.
Thanks to the adventurous Cassini space probe, you can get an overview of this lovely land of lakes and seas in a dramatic NASA video of Saturn's biggest moon. The data form the most detailed view of the planet to date. … Read more
You could say NASA's Juno is a bit of a sentimental spacecraft. When it took off for Jupiter, revving up its speed by 8,800 mph, it couldn't help but grab some farewell shots of its home.
For a home movie filmed from 600,000 miles away, the footage may be grainy, but it's also spectacular.
Earth and the moon are captured in a low-resolution dance set against the inky void of infinite space beyond them. This is what we'd look like to curious UFOs. … Read more
If you dream of colonizing distant worlds, here's welcome news: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted signs of water on five faraway planets, according to two studies.
You may not want to move in, though. At least one of the planets, WASP-19b, is an extremely hot, Jupiter-style world with a poisonous atmosphere featuring hydrogen cyanide.
All five worlds have hazy atmospheres that yielded faint signatures of water, adding to previous findings of water outside our solar system and possibly environments that support alien life. … Read more
The station is among FM broadcasters whose signals are bouncing off decaying satellites and other debris and into the giant "ear" that is the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia.
The high sensitivity of the radio telescope launched earlier this year allows it to detect objects smaller than 1 meter (3.2 feet), according to its director Steven Tingay of Curtin University. Tingay wants to use the array to improve knowledge of the thousands of bits of scrap that may threaten working satellites. … Read more
It made for perhaps the nerdiest Thanksgiving moment ever when I plugged a Google Chromecast into my mother's TV on Thursday and proceeded to put a live NASA Google+ Hangout on Comet ISON's sun-grazing journey on the screen in the living room.
By the time all the pumpkin pie had been knocked back and the turkey set to work lulling me into a coma, ISON had failed to emerge from the sun's shadow after reaching perihelion, leading many observers to conclude that the comet had been destroyed by its close encounter with the massive nuclear furnace at … Read more